Unwanted history beckons for Chelsea

Group stageTodayChelsea vs FC Nordsjælland 21:45 SS3Celtic vs Spartak MoskvaMan United vs CFR 1907 Cluj 21:45 SS5
Fernando Torres (left), and Eden Hazard (right) and Chelsea must beat FC Nordsjaelland to have a shot at advancing. Net photo.
Fernando Torres (left), and Eden Hazard (right) and Chelsea must beat FC Nordsjaelland to have a shot at advancing. Net photo.

Group stage
Today
Chelsea vs FC Nordsjælland 21:45 SS3
Celtic vs Spartak Moskva
Man United vs CFR 1907 Cluj 21:45 SS5
Braga vs Galatasaray
Lille vs Valencia
Bayern vs BATE Borisov 21:45 SS7
Barcelona vs Benfica 21:45 SS Maximo
Sh.Donetsk vs Juventus

LONDON – Defending champions Chelsea face the ignominy of becoming the first title-holders to fail to advance to the UEFA Champions League knockout stage as the final round of group fixtures takes place on Wednesday.

A comprehensive 3-0 defeat at Juventus a fortnight ago left Chelsea’s title defence hanging by a thread and the Blues’ destiny out of their hands, as a draw between Group E frontrunners Shakhtar Donetsk and Juventus in Ukraine would consign Rafa Benitez’s side to the UEFA Europa League.

The pressure is already mounting on Benitez after an inauspicious start as Chelsea manager following his appointment in the wake of Roberto Di Matteo’s dismissal, with the team yet to record a victory under the Spaniard’s tutelage and the fans quickly losing patience.

“We have to improve on the pitch and the fans will be happy,” said Benitez following Chelsea’s 3-1 defeat at West Ham on Saturday.

After starting the campaign in impressive fashion, Chelsea’s form has plummeted drastically as the west Londoners are without a win in seven Premier League outings, their worst stretch in the top-flight in 17 years.

“They [Shakhtar] might finish second and have to play against one of the top sides in Europe and it will be more difficult, so I think they will try to win,” added Benitez, hopeful of a favour from Mircea Lucescu’s side who boast an unblemished home record in all competitions this campaign.

Juve hunt three points

Meanwhile Juventus midfielder Claudio Marchisio, who is suspended for the trip to eastern Europe, insisted the Italians had no intentions of just playing to secure the point they need to progress.

“A draw is not what we’re after. It’s a risk for both teams to play for a draw. We have to go there to play our own game and try to win the match.”

Victory for Juventus would see the Italians clinch top spot, however, Shakhtar would still claim second ahead of Chelsea should both sides finish level on 10 points as the Ukrainians have a better head-to-head advantage.

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